The Altamont Board of Education had a packed house Monday night. There was standing-space only in the board room for the special tax hearing where citizens had chance to ask questions about the district tax levy. “I’m concerned that government bodies are constantly raising taxes and fees,” said Adam Huston, a local business owner and Altamont School Board hopeful. He suggested that Effingham County residents are “upset with property tax rates.”
Area resident, and Atlamont High School alum, Alan Shumaker had similar sentiments regarding the levy. “The State of Illinois is bleeding taxpayers dry,” he suggested. That on top proposed local taxes.
Altamont Superintendent Jeff Fritchnitch however said that “based on EAV, [equalized assessed value] the tax rate won’t change at all.” However, the district is still levying for more tax dollars due to uncertainty with the EAV, which will not be available before the levy is approved. According to Fritchtnitch, the levy has to be set high enough to accommodate the actual EAV in order to capture all the available tax dollars. While that number was set at a 7% increase from last year, Fritchtnitch does not expect it to actually be that high. “We anticipate about 2-3% EAV growth every year. That’s kind of been our trend here in Altamont,” Fritchtnitch stated. But, he did say that if the EAV does goes up higher than expected, it will be beneficial for the school system as it will receive more tax dollars. Because of the location of both an Enterprise and TIF Zone, some tax revenue is lost to the district regardless.
The current district tax rate is at 4.1, but Fritchtnitch expects it drop around 3.4-3.5. Ultimately, the levy passed by a 6-0 vote during the regular board meeting. The district is asking for $3,092,594.75 this year.
“If you don’t have a quality school system, you don’t have a community. And you don’t have to go far to see that,” Fritchtnitch said.
Also discussed during the meeting was the possibility of implementing a 1% sales tax in the county to help cover rising costs for schools. If such a measure were taken, it would placed on the April ballot to be voted on by the community. Revenue from that tax would be enough to cover debt the district has on bond sales and to put money in the reserve.
Superintendent Fritchtnitch discusses the tax levy.